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Excerpts of the interview with Meline Eolmezian-Soulie, Group Events Director – Safety & Security Portfolio, Reed Exhibitions Middle East

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Time: October 17, 2018   

The Saudi National Security and Risk Prevention Expo “SNSR Expo” will be held on November 4-6 in Riyadh. There will be more than 100 companies working in the national security space from 16 countries, including China, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Saudi Gazette recently sat down with Meline Eolmezian-Soule to discuss the Expo, what to expect and why Saudi Arabia was chosen to host for the first time this prestigious international event.

Q. Why did you select Saudi Arabia to host the National Security and Risk Prevention Expo (SNSR)?

There are a few reasons we chose Saudi Arabia. First, Saudi Arabia is the world’s second-largest market for national and cyber security products and services, spending more on security and risk prevention than all GCC countries combined. Saudi Arabia is also one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic markets in a region where security issues and cyber threats are top of mind. We looked at the success of our regional event, ISNR Abu Dhabi, which held its 8th Edition this year, and felt that now was the time to leverage that experience and expand into Saudi Arabia.

Second, Saudi Arabia is looking to develop its own Exhibitions & Conferences (MICE) industry and to meet that growing need, organizing professional industry events that allow international companies to visit the kingdom, explore or grow business opportunities and to meet government leaders in their field made sense.

Third, we are witnessing investment by Saudi authorities in its critical infrastructure and telecommunications operations, and this is creating massive opportunities in security-related projects in airports, rail, roads and utilities sectors, to name a few. In addition, recent cyberattacks in the Saudi energy sector have made real the threats faced by the country, the region and worldwide, demonstrating the need for continued investment into strengthening security and risk prevention industries and technologies.

Finally, Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision is looking to digital transformation efforts to propel Saudi Arabia into the future, and while that is exciting and indeed necessary, it brings a greater cyber security risk. The kingdom is serious about protecting itself from these threats and SNSR is the perfect opportunity to explore that topic further.

Q. Saudi Arabia is interested in attracting the best technology and the brightest minds to Saudi Arabia to learn from the world’s security leaders. How does SNSR help with this effort?

SNSR Expo will allow the Saudi government authorities and leading international companies to meet together for three days to learn from each other’s requirements, explore best practices, and share experiences. This event will be the first-of-its kind in Saudi Arabia, showcasing innovation, contributing to public awareness and knowledge transfer, and facilitating partnerships and business opportunities for both local and international players. It is also an opportunity for Saudi Government authorities to discover and explore international solutions for their future projects and investments in national security.

Q. How can the SNSR Expo add value to enhancing the national security sector?

As a member of the national security community myself, having spent 15 years in the industry before joining Reed Exhibitions, I understand the value of bringing like-minded professionals together to learn from each other. The Expo will provide a platform that will benefit the whole industry community and value chain of stakeholders in three key areas. First, SNSR Expo will be facilitating to international manufacturers direct and face-to-face exposure to local influencers, buyers and investors. Second, we are building awareness about the importance of purchasing robust security solutions including related training and maintenance services, promoting career opportunities and creating vocations to build local expertise for future generations, particularly in cyber security. Finally, we are helping innovative international SMEs and domestic distributors and integrators generate business opportunities and develop joint research and development efforts.

The event has been designed to provide a platform offering a unique program of onsite activities (workshops, roundtables, keynotes, and innovation awards ceremony), creating multiple exposure and related business networking opportunities for engaging participants.

Q. Looking ahead, what are the main challenges facing the national security sector in light of recent global technology developments?

There are four disruptive trends in global technology that will impact the security sector, creating challenges but also opportunities. First, the growth of AI-based solutions that are coming onto the market – the future is now! Artificial Intelligence will change the way security professionals use technology and operate systems to prevent, detect and respond to security attacks. Second, digital transformation is affecting national security communications and system integration platforms in profound ways. While this will benefit industry and improve solutions’ efficiency, it will also open the door for exploitation by bad actors. Third, the amount of collected information (Big Data) is requiring new storage and analytics capabilities, along with more powerful command and control solutions. This will create a need for greater resources, both financial and new skills and profiles. Fourth, everything today revolves around trust, trust in data, trust in privacy, and trust in government and industry. Key to protecting that trust is cyber security solutions and expertise.

These trends are indicative of how the security landscape has changed and will continue to evolve. National security is no longer a matter of physical barriers, security guards, armored vehicles and weapons. The security ecosystem today has completely changed. This is most evident in the many new players entering the market, coming from the ICT and digital world and willing to contribute to this sector. For example, companies like Microsoft, SAP, Cisco, Huawei and IBM are contributing to the security sectors in ways unheard of a few years ago.

Q: Anything special and unique happening at SNSR Expo that you would like to highlight and recommend to our readers?

SNSR Expo is much more than a traditional trade show; this is my personal recommendation of why you should visit the event. First, you will benefit from one of our six free-to-attend industry experts’ workshops. Second, you will discover more than 25 companies exhibiting for the first time in Riyadh. And last but not least, you will experience a live interactive Smart Safe City Control Centre of one hundred fifty square meters!

Although I recognize the valuable impact of digital in our professional lives, I am a strong believer that social media activity, online news and blogs will never replace the opportunity of live experience and traditional face-to-face discussions, particularly in the national and cybersecurity industry, which requires the intimacy and confidentiality of exclusive platforms. This is what we want to deliver at SNSR Expo.

This is an exciting time to be involved in the security sector. We are looking forward to bringing something new to the Saudi market and welcoming all national and cybersecurity value chain stakeholders to join us, engage and contribute to deliver a successful event that will help shape a safer, more secure future.


This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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